Jaelan Phillips shines at Army All-American Bowl

From left to right, SSG Tiki Sanchez, SSG Gil Febre, CAP Tad Kitaguchi and SSG Jonathan Crespo present Jaelan Phillips with his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey (Photo: Army All-American Bowl)

From left to right, SSG Tiki Sanchez, SSG Gil Febre, CAP Tad Kitaguchi and SSG Jonathan Crespo present Jaelan Phillips with his U.S. Army All-American Bowl jersey (Photo: Army All-American Bowl)

Even among the top high-school talent in the country, UCLA commit Jaelan Phillips stood out in a big way.

The five-star defensive end was a dominant force for the West Team in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday with a game-high five tackles. He had 0.5 sacks and one quarterback hurry as his West Team lost 21-17. NBC announcers praised Phillips’ quick, strong hands and full arsenal of moves, calling the Redlands East Valley graduate “the most impressive prospect of the week” with the “look of a future pro.”

Phillips was named the U.S. Army Defensive Player of the Year on Friday before the game.

Fellow UCLA commit offensive lineman Kanan Ray also participated in the game for the West, while the nation’s top defensive back Darnay Holmes announced his pledge to UCLA on national television, spurning USC, Nebraska and Ohio State.

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Darnay Holmes picks UCLA

UCLA picked up a huge victory on the recruiting trail at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday as five-star defensive back Darnay Holmes committed to UCLA.

Holmes is the top defensive back in the country, according to Scout.com, and turned down Nebraska, Ohio State and USC.

In picking UCLA, the Calabasas cornerback said on NBC he wanted to stay near his family and represent his home town.

It’s been a good two days of recruiting for UCLA as it picked up four-star recruits Martin Andrus and Rahyme Johnson on Friday, but the Bruins still only have 13 commits for the class of 2017. Continue reading

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UCLA gets pair of four-star recruits Martin Andrus, Rahyme Johnson

With less than a month left until National Signing Day, UCLA picked up two big commits Friday in four-star defensive tackle Martin Andrus and four-star linebacker Rahyme Johnson.

The pair of L.A. natives announced their commitments in a joint video with cameos from fellow UCLA commits Jaelan Phillips and Jaylan Shaw.

Andrus, a 6-foot-1, 280-pound defensive tackle from Los Angeles High, is a four-star recruit according to Scout.com and a three-star according to Rivals and 247 Sports. He was also considering Oregon, USC and Nebraska, among others.

This is Johnson’s second commitment to UCLA as he pledged to the Bruins on July 24, 2015 before withdrawing on May 13, 2016. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound outside linebacker from Salesian was also considering Oregon, Oregon State, Nebraska and Notre Dame. He told Scout.com that UCLA linebackers coach Scott White was relentless in his recruiting even after the decommitment and that helped reel Johnson back in.  Continue reading

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UCLA basketball team doesn’t need to lose to learn lessons


Most college basketball teams aren’t afforded the chance to learn a lesson and win. Especially those led by freshmen.

UCLA is apparently the exception. After playing one of their best halves of the season Thursday night, The Bruins followed with one of their worst. But it wasn’t enough to cost them in the loss column in an 81-71 win over Cal.

The way UCLA raced out to a 20-point lead in the first half against a Cal team that should easily make the NCAA tournament field was far more impressive than the second half was disappointing. There were some tense moments in the final six minutes of the game, but it should be noted that UCLA maintained its 20-point lead until the 5:54 mark of the second half.

Shooting 34 percent in the second half and allowing Cal twice as many field goals as in the first half was concerning. So was allowing Cal to outrebound them by 11 over the final 20 minutes – and giving up 20 rebounds to Cal sophomore Ivan Rabb on the night. UCLA generally looked stagnant in the second half, but the Bruins never needed to flip the switch back on because they were so far ahead late in the game.

It’s human nature to ease off the pedal when TJ Leaf is dunking on Cal’s 7-foot-1 center and Lonzo Ball is draining another deep 3-pointer to end a half. UCLA should leave Thursday’s win more encouraged about they way it can dominate a good team when it’s focused. Coach Steve Alford has plenty of material for the film room, but he also left with a win. Not a bad combination for a UCLA team that keeps finding ways to get better.

Links from our coverage vs Cal:

  • The game story, a tale of two halves
  • Columist Jeff Miller on UCLA basketball vs USC football
  • Notebook on senior Isaac Hamilton’s shooting slump
  • Video: Lonzo Ball on growing his vocal leadership role vs Cal
  • Video: TJ Leaf on his monster dunk over Cal’s 7-foot-1 center
  • Video: Steve Alford on Cal’s second-half comeback
  • Photographer Hans Gutknecht’s photo gallery from the game
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